using accessible technology: a guide for educators

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Using Accessible Technology: A Guide for Educators

Accessible Technology:A Guide for EducatorsEmpower your students with technology thats accessible to all

Published by Microsoft CorporationAccessibility Business UnitOne Microsoft WayRedmond, Washington 98052-6399

Copyright ( 2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of the contents of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. For permissions, visit

To obtain additional copies of this booklet, visit

Encarta, Microsoft, Natural, PowerPoint, and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

The example companies, organizations, products, domain names, e-mail addresses, logos, people, places, and events depicted herein are fictitious. No association with any real company, organization, product, domain name, e-mail address, logo, person, place, or event is intended or should be inferred.

Managing editor: LaDeana McCoskey Huyler, Accessibility Business Unit, Microsoft Corporation

Table of Contents

5About This Guide

7Chapter 1: Understanding Accessibility

7What Is Accessibility?

8Microsofts Commitment to Accessibility

8What Is Accessible Technology?

8The Need for Accessible Technology in Schools

11The Challenge: Inclusive Classrooms Equal Access for All Students

13Chapter 2: Impairment Types and Technology Solutions

13Defining Disability and Impairments

14Visual Impairments

19Mobility and Dexterity Impairments

24Hearing Impairments and Deafness

27Language Impairments

28Learning Impairments

30Chapter 3: Selecting Accessible Technology

30Accessibility Settings in Microsoft Products

38Selecting Assistive Technology Products for Students

39Assistive Technology Product Guide

42Assistive Technology Decision Tree


About This Guide

What This Guide is ForToday's schools bring amazing technology to the classroom. In the modern classroom, everythingfrom art to science projects, research to writing assignments, lesson plans to tracking gradeshappens on the classroom PC. Now, Windows brings digital media to facilitate rich, project-based learning, in and out of the classroom, for students across the globe.

This guide from Microsoft provides information about accessibility and accessible technology resources to help educators worldwide ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology.

For educators new to accessibility and working with students with disabilities, accessibility can seem overwhelming. To help educators teach students with all types of abilities, this guide includes information about accessibility and how to successfully and more simply bring it into the classroom.

DownloadThis guide is available for download on the Microsoft Accessibility Web site This is the second edition of this guide.

Permission for ReuseThese materials were designed to help train individuals on how to use accessibility settings in Microsoft products. The Microsoft accessibility fact sheets, tutorials, demo, videos, and other training materials may be used for non-profit educational and training purposes only. These materials may be printed and duplicated when used for educational or training purposes and not for resale. If you or your organization wants to use these materials for any other purpose, you may submit a request to and obtain written permission from Microsoft. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.Second edition. Published in 2007. 2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.Terms of use: Trademarks:

Chapter 1: Understanding AccessibilityProviding accessible technology in the classroom to students with disabilities enables all students to have the same educational opportunities. For example, if a student with vision impairment cannot use the classroom computer because she cant read the small text on the screen, she will not be provided with the same opportunities to learn that her sighted peers have.

This chapter introduces accessibility, defines exactly what accessible technology is, and why it is important to make it available in your classroom.What Is Accessibility?

Accessibility means providing access to products and services to everyone who wants to access the product or service. Accessibility is about removing barriers. Accessible products can be adjusted to meet the needs and preferences of a diverse set of individuals that might use the product. A more accessible environment benefits everyone(including people with disabilities and those without. All people benefit from an environment in which it is easier and safer to move and function. Ensuring accessibility is another way of accepting and encouraging diversity in our society.

Microsofts Commitment to Accessibility

Microsofts mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. Computer technology is an important and powerful tool that enables and empowers people of all abilities. At Microsoft, we strive to develop technology that is accessible and usable by everyone, including individuals who experience the world in different ways because of impairments or disabilities.

For two decades, we have been exploring and evolving accessibility solutions that are integrated with our products. Microsoft's Accessibility Business Unit (ABU) takes a strategic approach to its accessibility efforts. Read more at

What Is Accessible Technology?

Accessible technology is computer technology which enables individuals to adjust a computer to meet their visual, hearing, dexterity, cognitive, and speech needs. To be accessible, technology must be flexible enough to meet the individual needs and preferences of a diverse set of people with many different types of abilities. Accessible technology encompasses three elements:

Accessibility features or settings are built into a software program and allow adjustment and customization of product settings to meet vision, hearing, mobility, language, and learning needs. For example, in Windows, changing the font size and color, and changing mouse pointer options are accessibility settings. Windows, Office, and Internet Explorer include many accessibility features and settings that make the computer easier to see, hear, and use. Assistive technology products are specialty hardware and software products such as a screen reader or voice recognition product. Assistive technology products are carefully chosen specifically to accommodate an individuals disability or multiple disabilities.

Compatibility between assistive technology products, the operating system, and software programs is critical for assistive technology products to function properly.The Need for Accessible Technology in Schools

Accessible technology in schools is important for several reasons. First and foremost, many countries, including the United States, require schools by law to provide equal access to technologies for students with disabilities, which means accommodating those students disabilities. Among the myriad reasons for legislating equal access is the inclusion of students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms. Educational Technology in Schools

As the numbers of students with disabilities integrated into general education classroom, so has the use of computers in classrooms. Today, nearly every student has access to a computer at school. In addition, the proportion of instructional rooms in the United States with Internet access increased from 51 percent in 1998 to 94 percent in 2005. Ninety-seven percent of those use broadband connections (as opposed to 26% in 1996), a growing number through wireless technology. Also changing the landscape of accessible technology is a rise in provisions for hand-held devices in the classroom, and loaner laptops available to students from school. Figure 1-1 illustrates the growth rate of schools with Internet access in the United States.Internet access in schools 1994-2005













Figure 1-1. Percentage of public school instructional rooms with Internet access, 19942005Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Fast Response Survey System, Internet Access in Public Schools and Classrooms: 1994-2005.The number of students using a computer at home has also increased in recent years. As of 2003, 83 percent of primary and secondary students in the U.S. used computers at home. Nearly half of primary school children, and between 80 and 90 percent of secondary students, used home computers for schoolwork.

Prevalence of People with Disabilities Across the Globe

The definition of disability is not consistent throughout the world, nor are the statistics surrounding it. This is true because statistics are collected for different purposes by various organizations with different capabilities and resources. For example, the World Health Organization collects worldwide statistics, the U.S. government collects statistics on a wide range of subjects, and various special interest groups collect information with the purpose of advancing their own causes


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